Síle Nic Chormaic

Light-Matter Interactions Unit

Associate Professor Síle Nic Chormaic

sile.nicchormaic at oist.jp

Welcome to the website of the Light-Matter Interactions Unit here at OIST.   If you are fascinated by the beauty of light and the enormous role it plays in the world around us then this is the place for you!  

We explore light as a tool in classical physics, such as when it can be used to push or pull individual particles (think of where a comet's tail comes from!), or for exploring the dynamics of colloidal particles (such as cells, bacteria, or test spheres), or even light's ability to be used in sensing of very small numbers of particles.

Of course, there's a world beyond the classical and we also consider light's role in quantum physics, where photons can be used to slow down neutral atoms, in a process known as laser-cooling, or combined with magnetic fields to spatially trap and cool atoms in a magneto-optical trap, where temperatures of about 100 microKelvin are routinely obtained in the lab.  All of these techniques are crucial in the development of future quantum-based technologies relying on neutral atoms.  

To put it more formally, we study the interaction between light and matter in a number of regimes, including cold atomic systems, whispering gallery mode microresonators and biological specimens, in order to gain a better understanding of the processes involved and to manipulate or trap micron and nanoscaled particles using light fields.  A common technique across our work is the use of optical nanofibers as the interface tool between the light source and the sample under investigation.   Researchers in our unit need/acquire a huge range of skills from optics, atomic physics, simulations, photonics, electronics, vacuum, cryogenics, nanotechnology, interfacing, programming, and so on, and there are some opportunities to gain skills in biophysics and other interdisciplinary topics such as sensing and imaging.   While much of our research focus is fundamental in nature, we use skills that are highly relevant to industry witha focus on nanofabrication, optics, automation, system modelling and control.  

Some of the facilities we have include 2 magneto-optical traps for Rb, 2 optical nanofibre pulling rigs, microfluidics, several microscopes, numerous tunable lasers from visible to near IR, optical spectrum analysers, vector network analyser, high speed oscilloscopes, wavemeters,  optical tweezers, Ti:Saph laser, cryostat, clean room with open access, SEM, FIB (dual beam), spatial light modulators, single photon detectors, and so on.   

Students interested in studying for a PhD with us should apply through the OIST Graduate University PhD Programme at https://groups.oist.jp/grad or contact us for informal discussions about the entry requirements.    If you wish to spend a research period of up to 6 months with our group, we'd be happy to consider your application.  Alternatively, OIST offers a dedicated research intern programme, details of which are available at https://groups.oist.jp/grad/research-interns.   Please contact Prof. Nic Chormaic to discuss opportunities.  

Details of our earlier work can be found at http://www.physics.ucc.ie/nicchormaic/Quantum_Optics.html.

 The LMI Unit acknowledges funding from JSPS.    

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